Today, I Could Put on My Shoes!

Throughout this illness, which appears to be Poststreptococcal Reactive Arthritis (although it could be something else), my health has been quite varied. (Also, I have filled in some medical detail after the symptoms descriptions; mostly to clarify what PSRA is, and how and why my treatment is progressing the way it is.)


No, these aren’t my shoes, but … dang … [Enunciate the last bit the way Will Smith recommends Beatrice (Edgar’s wife) hire an internal decorator in Men in Black.]

For example, here’s how the past few days have gone:

Thursday: Ibuprofen taken at night allowed me to move fairly well in the morning. As soon as I woke up, I took my prednisone, and within a couple of hours, was able to hobble about without much pain. I had a doctor’s appointment mid-day, but worked at the office and from home around the appointment, and felt very good. By late afternoon, I had a fever, and needed to take a short nap. Still, I managed to get to and lead our small group Bible study, with Nichelle driving. I felt good, and didn’t take any extra medication at bedtime, when the prednisone was definitely beginning to wear off.

Friday: Not taking the ibuprofen seems to have been a big mistake. I awoke at about 5:00 a.m. with serious pain and movement issues. I could barely move my legs, and couldn’t use either hand. I waited until 6:00 to take the increased dose of prednisone Dr. Eranki prescribed, but it took hours to have a noticeable effect. I did go to work, but didn’t make it into the office until 11:30 a.m. Due to the pain and swelling in my left middle finger, typing on my left hand was reduced to 1-finger. Still, in the evening I felt very good. Nichelle and I were able to attend “Run for Your Wife,” a TCAN Players [hilarious] comedy play featuring co-worker Laura Crook.

Saturday: I felt good for a few hours in the morning, but spent most of the day fighting the low fever, playing some games with the kids and hanging out in Azeroth, spending an inordinate amount of time trying to beat a seasonal instance.

Sunday: Good in the morning. I was able to drive to church early for my Geek work (A/V), and even ran a couple of quick errands in Nashua after the service (pharmacy; gas for the mower). By mid afternoon, the fever was back, and I spent a couple of hours starting at supper time just sleeping. Afterward, I felt pretty good.

Today: Today I was able to move my legs well enough to put on shoes and socks for the first time in several weeks! (After taking prednisone a few hours earlier.) The biggest problem today is my left hand. I do have a low fever, but it’s only about 1/2 a degree above normal, which to me is starting to feel normal.

By this evening, my movement ability had dropped a bit, but not much, but I became febrile again enough to notice. Oh, well, today was better than usual.

PSRA Details / Symptoms / Concepts

Tomorrow will mark my fourth week since the onset of obvious symptoms, and I had noticed some minor symptoms before that. Wow!

Poststreptococcal Reactive Arthritis is only a probable diagnosis. I will have an echocardiogram in a few weeks, as well as another Lyme disease titer, to rule out Rheumatic Fever and Lyme disease, respectively.

However, PSRA does seem to fit the symptoms. Neither PSRA nor rheumatic fever are testable conditions; they are syndromes—collections of symptoms—and the symptoms must be weighed carefully to figure out what the overall diagnosis should be.

The biggest meaningful symptoms or test results have been a positive blood test for a recent strep infection, the swelling and joint pain in my legs, hands, and shoulders, the fever, and vast number of negative tests for heart problems, liver function problems, active infections, etc.

Note that arthritis essentially means joint pain, so the reactive arthritis (assuming that it what I have), is not the type of arthritis that we all tend to develop as we age. (There is some x-ray evidence of that happening in my back, which is completely normal for this point in my life, and has not affected me in any way.)

I have a few days to go on my antibiotic treatment, and have already started tapering down the prednisone. Today has been my best freedom-of-movement day so far, and I hope that trend will continue. The guys in my at-work Bible study laid hands on me and prayed for my recovery today, which was very moving.

Poststreptococcal Reactive Arthritis (Probably)


BLOG readers begged for Calvin and Hobbes …

At the moment I feel sleepy but almost good, after a feeling very miserable all morning, and sleeping most of the rest of the day.

My rheumatologist, Dr. Eranki referred me to an infectious disease specialist, Dr. Strampfer.

We discussed all sort of symptoms and possibilities. He fell for our typical joke of, “I’ve had this pain in my neck for 16 1/2 years,” almost recording that as a symptom.

The two front-runners are Poststreptococcal Reactive Arthritis (PSRA) and Rheumatic Fever. Although the diseases present slightly differently, there is still debate among some doctors as to whether they are indeed separate diseases, and not merely different manifestations of the same thing. Rheumatic Fever can lead to heart damage, which I don’t have, although I may get long-term antibiotic treatment if Rheumatic Fever is considered a probable diagnosis.

Poststreptococcal Reactive Arthritis, however, is fascinating, and perhaps a better match. I had one blood test in which my ASO was elevated, showing a past Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal infection. One of the ways in which PSRA differentiates from Rheumatic Fever is that the joint pain in PSRA responds very poorly to normal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, which has, indeed, provided me nearly no relief. Another strike against Rheumatic Fever is the lack of Sydenham’s chorea symptoms—“rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements affecting primarily the face, feet and hands.” (Although I have been described as an uncoordinated jerk, that isn’t quite the same.)

Other possibilities include Human Parvovirus B19, but it seems not quite as likely. Likewise, my retest in a few more weeks for Lyme disease will be carried out, although we don’t find that as likely, either, it’s very important to diagnose as early as possible, as it can cause very serious long-term damage if untreated.

Today I am back on prednisone (a corticosteroid), for a longer-term treatment. It’s offered the first significant relief in about two weeks. I cannot express how wonderful it is to be able to stand and sit without being in serious pain while moving, nor just to be able to sit or lay down for a while without being able to get comfortable. I still limp quite a bit, but my stride has gotten longer than 6 inches, and each step isn’t accompanied by pain. The fever continues, albeit more intermittently, making this day 21 with a fever, blowing away whatever my childhood chicken pox fever record was. I have been very sleepy today, but I think it’s just my body catching up on rest after being in constant pain for nearly three weeks.


But … by the next morning (18 hours later), the prednisone has mostly worn off. The fingers in my left hand are almost impossible to move, and my stride is much shorter again. :: sigh :

Walking? Nyet.

This comic from Bloom County keeps coming to mind. (Copyright 1983, the Washington Post Company. Used under the “Get with It, This Is the 21st Century” interpretation of the Fair Use clause.) See http://www.berkeleybreathed.com/.

Today I received numerous answers from my doctor; unfortunately, they were all along the lines of “Those results were negative,” or “I don’t know.” I do know that I’m still running a fever (even after 5 days of antibiotics), but it seems to be slightly more controllable with medication, and it is nearly impossible for me to walk, even with Vicodin helping to manage the pain.

On the bright side, my echocardiogram concluded that the enlarged heart shown on my chest x-ray was simply a test anomaly. This also concluded that, if I do have rheumatic fever, it hasn’t done any damage to my heart. Still out there is the possibility of Lyme disease.

One ironic thing is that I have a severe vitamin D deficiency—just like what incapacitated Nichelle for many years. (See, there would have been ROI on that cube with a window view I recently requested at work.) However, the vitamin D deficiency isn’t likely to be the cause of my symptoms, as it wouldn’t cause the localized swelling, nor fever, and wouldn’t have set in so suddenly. (It’s also easily treated.)

I see an infectious disease specialist tomorrow, and I see my rheumatologist again on Thursday; we hope for more definitive answers. So far a large number of things have been ruled out. I’ve had so much blood and fluids drawn in the past week, that my weight has dropped 3 pounds.

I am grateful for the dedication my ever-growing medical team has shown. My fellow church members and family members are praying for my recovery. My wife and children are incredibly helpful. Nichelle keeps life manageable, and the kids typically function as my extended arms and legs, without complaint.

I have gotten much support as well from my co-workers. Many have called or e-mailed to see how I am doing. “Tovarich” Gary Dlugy is going to feed my tarantula, Susan (named after one of our VPs at Kronos). Sarcasm master Joe Royal sent these words of encouragement, which would have left me rolling on the floor if I’d been able to do such a thing:

Things are a little dull without you. Meetings start on time and stick to the agenda. Management is starting to be worshiped. It’s becoming a very unproductive work environment.

Day 13

Nichelle and I are reprising the roles we had when she was so ill, albeit we have swapped who we are playing. I get to play the part of “Nichelle, the inexplicably sick one,” and she gets to play me.

Today is Day 13 with the still-unexplained fever, leg pain, phalanges pain, and swelling. (The swelling in my leg and foot has become quite “interesting.”) None of the tests I’ve had (and there have been many) have found anything conclusive. I will see a rheumatologist soon (I hope before my currently scheduled appointment of July 8 ), and continue to work—much—with my own primary care office.

The forecast seems to call for uninterrupted fever, with a scattered chance of more severe pain, and increasingly widespread swelling.

For example, yesterday I went to church, and Nichelle drove us to Randolph to celebrate Debbie Civil’s 18th birthday and high school graduation. (Debbie is a blind girl in a wonderful Christian family who used to, along with her siblings, ride our bus to church at New England Baptist.)


The Civil Family and the Wilcox Family. Debbie is the second person to the right of Nichelle. (At this point I could even squat down for the photo, albeit stiffly.)

I hobbed about, but felt pretty good, and was able to walk almost normally for a couple of hours in the afternoon. On the way to the party I slept; on the way back we stopped at the Natick Mall to see the completion of a 7-foot-tall R2-D2 (which we contributed to on Saturday). In the very short walk through the mall, my leg got worse. By the time I went to bed, the pain and swelling was worse.


I offed to take this home for them, but they didn’t think it would fit in our van. (See the swelling in the leg?)

I awoke at 5:30 a.m. with my leg in considerable pain, my temperature up to 100.9 (at 101.5 my doctor’s office wants to know about it), and that awful everywhere-hurts-because-I-have-a-fever feeling. I was also really hungry. I gobbled acetaminophen and ibuprofen (and cereal), and then slept virtually constantly until noon.

Today I’ve managed a little bit of work, but the fever and finger pain is still there, so I haven’t accomplished very much. I am trying to let my body get the rest it needs, it just doesn’t seem to be helping much.

In addition to work, I’ve just got to get better for our church trip to Strategy Zone on Saturday.

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

While I am working on posts about “The Weaker Vessel,” and “Verbal/Emotional Abuse” (and looking into how a ‘bot hacked my BLOG files to include hidden Spam links), here’s a bit to get you thinking:

Clay Shirky published a lightly edited transcript of his speech at a recent Web 2.0 conference, entitled, “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus.”

You will definitely want to read the whole post, but here are a few noteworthy excerpts:

Starting with the Second World War a whole series of things happened–rising GDP per capita, rising educational attainment, rising life expectancy and, critically, a rising number of people who were working five-day work weeks. For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.

And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV.

How much television do we watch?

[H]ow big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads. This is a pretty big surplus. People asking, “Where do they find the time?” when they’re looking at things like Wikipedia don’t understand how tiny that entire project is, as a carve-out of this asset that’s finally being dragged into what Tim calls an architecture of participation.

This reminds me, I was listening to “This American Life,” episode 328, “What I Learned from Television.” In a live broadcast, Ira Glass announces to the audience that average Americans watch 29 hours of television a week. There is a loud, collective gasp from the audience, which is composed of course, of not merely NPR listeners, but NPR listeners who paid to go out and see a live presentation of the radio program. Twenty-nine hours is the average? Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about playing World of WarCraft.

As Shirky writes,

In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of WarCraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: “Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves.”

At least they’re doing something.

But I digress.

As I write this, our pastor is speaking on “Reflections from the Back of a Bike,” noting how we prefer to ride in a car metaphorically driven by the pastor, instead of providing our own power on a bicycle, comparing the early church’s prayer to “speak the Word of God with boldness” as recorded in Acts 4:29 to our typical prayers of, well, whatever; of how we fail to really act on our belief in an Almighty God and actually serve Him with actions, every hour of our lives. How we need to embrace the mission of Christ and actually do something to reflect what we say we believe.

To be honest, I have heard many such sermons over the years, but this one is different. It’s Scriptural. It isn’t designed to evoke an emotional response. Its success won’t be measured by the number of people who raise their hands or “go forward” to the altar. Its success will, rather, be measured by how we let Christ give us boldness to use our associations and talents and burdens to change others’ lives. It’s real. It’s a reflection of how he actually lives in following Christ.

And the Word of God convicts me, that I ought to be so focused.


P.S.: Shirky makes some fascinating conclusions based on analyses of both current society and the Industrial Revolution, getting into such subjects as cognitive surplus, shared information projects, and participatory media. It’s one of the few must-read pieces I’ve encountered in the past year. He wraps up with a look into this gem (which in this context of excerpts seems disconnected, but in reality is not):

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

2008 as Seen from 1968

“The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer.”

In 2008, Mechanix Illustrated prognosticated on what life would be like 40 years later. Some of the predications are eerily accurate, some may be seen in another 40 years, and as for others, we can only hope. Take a look!

(While I’m working on 3 other relatively detailed posts, I figured I’d provide something to chew on to prove I’m still alive. For the record, I was born in 1968.)

I Told You I Was 1337!


I told you I was 1337, as this compilation screen shot shows.

I grabbed this screen shot at work today. Every developer wants to write 1337 code, but I think this proves that I’m doing it.

Resolved: Things about Which I Will Never Complain

One of Nichelle’s and my most eye-opening trips was our first part-time missions trip to Mexico together, about 10 years ago. One of the first rules we made for the kids (and future children) upon our return was, “No whining.” (Getting the children to follow that rule has been difficult, but we never give up.)

Americans, in my opinion, tend to be really whiney ingrates. As someone who has seen life from “the other side,” here are some of the things I try very, very hard never to whine about:

  • The price of gasoline. (Go check the consumer prices worldwide for those countries not swimming in petroleum.)
  • Government corruption. (When’s the last time you had to bribe someone to get a spot you deserve in university, or paid your traffic “ticket” directly to the police officer?)
  • The food I am served, as long as it’s not spoiled. (Complaining about the food or refusing food offered is a huge insult in countries where people are not certain they will get enough food every day.)
  • The quality of television and movies. (Watch less. Be more selective. Television and movies have always had both great programming and nearly worthless programming. The great programming and films survive and are remembered, which is why we think that all the “old shows” were like “The Twilight Zone,” when most of them were more like “F Troop.”)
  • Being bored. (I honestly can’t remember the last time I was bored. Usually, I have so many things that I want to do, I can’t choose between them.)
  • The American justice system. (I know it’s not perfect, but for the most part, our criminal justice system is very fair, and we’re even finally learning about victim rights, too.)
  • The amount of money I have. (Do you have any idea how absolutely rich we Americans are?)
  • My job. (The US is still, unquestionably, the Land of Opportunity.)
  • The weather.
  • My wife. (Nichelle is awesome, in far more ways than I can count—although I did try once.)

I’m sure I’ll think of a few others.

Superman Trumps God: The NaNi Report and Other News

NaNi:

Here are some more anecdotes from the world’s cutest and oldest three-year-old:

  • We were “in the running” for a very nice outdoor grill that was being given away. When our friend Phil reported that it had gone to someone else, NaNi instructed, “You should have called ‘NaNi dibs’!” Quite a few people have commented on how good she is at conversing. This is something we’ve observed in her from very early on, but it does seem odd sometimes to have a three-year-old who thinks she’s on equal terms with everyone in the entire world, and can generally talk that way.
  • As parents, we all love it when our children begin to learn about God and develop a theological understanding of their own. Quite often, we forget that their grasp of things can be very different than we expect, at least underneath the common terms we hear from them. For example, Naomi and I have talked several times about “God v. Superman,” after a conversation that she had with David one morning. NaNi insists that Superman is better than God, despite her acknowledgement that God not only created everything, but saves people forever. Maybe she just thinks that Tom Welling is cuter than God.

  • To NaNi, there’s just no contest.

  • NaNi continues to learn cool things. She’s learned to stand on her head, and was really impressing us with her Spider-Man moves done while climbing on our exercycle. She can also type her name accurately and quickly, since I gave her a guest account and assigned her name as the password. (The user name is nonobvious for security purposes.) She can also run a Web browser and navigate all her favorite educational sites without difficulty.
  • The other day NaNi gave me a dollar from her purse. As I didn’t want to take her dollar, I sneaked it back in later. Last night on the way home from church, NaNi exclaimed, “Dad! You cheated. You gave me back the dollar I gave you.” Not only had the little weasel counted the bills she had, but she correctly inferred how the extra one had gotten there.

D’oh!

  • A few days ago, I left a pen in my pocket, getting spots on a whole load of laundry, not to mention marking the inside of the dryer. I was very disappointed to have made such a mistake. Nichelle got the dryer cleaned out after a few days, but I don’t know how many clothing articles were irreparably marred.

David:

  • Phil called David a slacker the other day, and he responded, “Uncle Phil, you know that everyone in my family is a slacker.”

Fighting (not Really):

  • I am attempting to do what few husbands would dare or desire. I am teaching Nichelle to argue. It seems odd to do so at this point of her life, and sometimes I wonder if this is what I really want, but her lifelong coping strategy had been to simply give in to the opinions of those around her, and she viewed all contradiction of her ideas as “being shot down.” Since I spend my days “in heated discussions” with my co-workers (it’s how software is developed, folks), she’d always believed I was shooting her ideas down—even though our discussions were virtually never heated—and even though I thought I was simply expressing a differing opinion and challenging her to defend her position, she viewed a single contradiction as “case closed.” It’s been fun, and a bit scary, requiring some adjustment from both of us, but she’s catching on quickly. (Ironically, if I had been asked to look back on the times we’ve disagreed in opinion, I would answer honestly that most of the time I see things her way in the end. However, my perspective did not and could not include the times she caved without discussion. Facinating.)

Swimming:

  • When I removed the cover (our first year with a mesh cover) from our pool this year, I made an interesting discovery: The pool was completely empty, save for a few puddles of nearly black water. NaNi, David, and Phil, and I spent much of Saturday sweeping and vacuuming out the bottom of the pool with the wet/dry vac. (There’s something really manly about operating a shopvac.) Then we scrubbed and rinsed every inch of it, repeatedly shop-vacuuming the dirt that had accumulated for the past several years. We patched the holes in the liner we found, and refilled the pool. Although the water is freezing, the results are astounding. The water is crystal-clear, and maintaining the chlorine level (so far) has been a breeze. If we ever move into a house with a swimming pool again, I’ll know to “kill and refill” it. (I should send pictures to my Mom and sister, who have always criticized my pool maintenance skills, just to prove the preexisting conditions weren’t my fault.)

Geekdom:

  • I’ve submitted several (well, three) articles to Slashdot recently, but have yet to have any of them go beyond “pending.” Apparently the world of Geekdom is not ready for my paltry contributions.
  • I’ve finally started a Lego MindStorms group at work. You can read about our exploits on our MindStorms@Work BLOG. We have about 8 people participating, and it’s been great fun so far. Our first project is a robotic candy sorter, which has turned out to be surprisingly challenging, at least based on our initial research.
  • The kids are crazy about various “geek songs” that we can play on our MP3 or CD players in the car. Thanks to iTunes and such services, we’ve been able to download a very unusual mix: “The Fuhrer’s Face” (Spike Jones) is NaNi’s most requested item. (NaNi has referred to it as, “Green, green, green,” after the sound the horns make at the beginning, “The Space Song,” and “The Future of Space,”—it took me a while to figure out which one she meant. “White and Nerdy” by Weird Al is nearly always asked for, as is his “The Saga Begins.” (We have those in video as well from iTunes for the home computer.) Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements” we are all working on, and we have been listening to “Skullcrusher Mountain,” “Chiron Beta Prime,” and “The Future Soon” by Jonathan Coulton for quite a while. Also in the mix under the nongeeky category are “Sway” by the Pussycat Dolls (the only song I’ve really liked by them), several LotR tracks, some Big Band, and my two indulgences of “You Can’t Hurry Love” (the Supremes), and “The Power of Love” (Huey Lewis and the News). Nichelle has several new acapella gospel CDs which we often listen to, but I can’t get them out of her hands long enough to rip them to MP3.

Movies and Television:

  • I think my favorite movie of the summer is going to be Ratatouille, which opens at the end of June. Why? Two words: Brad Bird. So far Spiderman 3 was excellent, with beautiful moral lessons, and Pirates III was a huge disappointment, even though we got to see it in digital video at Lowell Showcase. (Very little humor and character development.) Shrek the Third wasn’t too bad, although Shrek was very un-ogre-like in parts, and TMNT was reasonable (better than I expected), especially for the kids, although a big part of the dramatic/emotional plot seemed like a rehash of the first TMNT movie. And, would anyone go see Fantastic Four II if Jessica Alba were not in it? I think not. (Okay, maybe people will go see it with the desperate hope that two FF movies in a row can’t be awful.)
  • We’ve just finished up watching the second season of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Although we love the medical drama so much that we can barely stay awake watching “House” anymore, our concern is that it’s developing too much into a “soap opera” formula. We shall have to see what season 3 has delivered when it hits DVD. I will say this much, if the writers are medically knowledegable, it’s very evident that Grey exhibits the behaviors of one who has been physically or sexually abused as a child, although it hasn’t been hinted at in the first two seasons of the show.
  • We also just finished “24.” Frankly, I’m tired of it. I don’t think this season, by the end, was anywhere near gripping, and I honestly miss the filming style and direction from the first season, including Jack Bauer’s voiceovers to introduce each hour and the constant use of split-screen. I was actually disappointed when they flashed the return of the show next January. I simply do not care any more.
  • The one unquestionably, gloriously bright spot on television has been “Lost.” Wow. If you haven’t been watching, you have all summer and fall to catch up on the first three seasons via DVD. Do it.

Humor:

  • Tom in the Box News Service has a delightful, tongue-in-cheek (but never meanspirited) perspective on neofundamentalism, among other things. (The scary thing is how credible some of these stories are.)

Church:

  • Heritage Baptist has been wonderful for us. I’ve described is as “a whole congregation full of Debi Costines,” which is clearly an exaggeration, but there is a desire to know, study, and live God’s Word in its intended context that we have found only rarely. Travel on over to their Web site and have a listen to some of the messages.

Other stuff:

  • Nichelle’s health is better-than-perfect. She still outlifts me in all but a couple of weight-training exercises.
  • My Mom is getting married June 16, at age 80. We’re very excited about that.
  • I’m not sure why, but I really don’t like Jessica Alba with light hair.

John Hannah:

  • And, although it has nothing to do with this post, here’s a wonderful quotation from Dr. John Hannah:

    “Being biblical is not having a verse for what you believe; it’s having the weight of Scripture undergirding what you believe.” Dr. John Hannah

Life: A Quick Update

  • Nichelle’s health has been amazing. Actually, Nichelle looks amazing. She is doing Tae-Bo and weight training almost every day. She is absolutely transformed, to the point where that picture of Storm I posted for her birthday is truly not very different than reality. This is a far cry from the woman who two years ago sometimes had trouble holding a fork and knife at dinner. This is by far our biggest blessing.
  • Since Nichelle can now kill me with her pinkie, I started on the weights with her and our friend Phil about a month ago, and get in several days a week of Tae-Bo or cardio stuff as well. It’s already made a big difference, although Nichelle puts me to shame. Phil is cracking the whip on the weights and controlling our diet as well. Last night we got to eat a single piece of cheese for the first time in about 3 weeks. My doctor should be very pleased with these lifestyle changes. I will say having Nichelle working on the same things has made it immensely easier. What would I do without her?
  • As far as we can tell, David made highest honors again. Although Isaac needs to apply a slight amount of effort in math and history for the first time in his life, he did very well also. I love Isaac’s wit, and David amazes me with his insight, especially because he’s only 8.
  • Isaac bought a ball python about two months ago, which he named Knotty. Ball pythons are really cool, although we’ve learned that they really do have poor eyesight, and have become familiar with their striking distance …
  • Command and Conquer 3 and Jaws Unleashed have overtaken us for gaming, even to the point of neglecting World of WarCraft and our beloved Wii. C&C 3 is every bit the game C&C/Red Alert lovers have longed for, providing that magical balance of interesting units and fast-paced strategy for which Westwoood Studios was famous. In Jaws Unleashed, one controls Jaws himself, attacking swimmers, dolphins, boats, and other sharks and sea life. Isaac and David love it to the point of addiction, although it hasn’t received very good ratings from adult gamers.
  • We officially resigned from our old church a week ago—a decision which was clearly God-directed—although we have not yet joined a new one. We believe we will end up at Heritage Baptist in Hooksett, which we attend most, although we are checking out the Wednesday night program tonight at MVBC—Heritage doesn’t have anything yet for the kids on Wednesdays.
  • Nichelle will compete in the National Chicken Cook Off on May 3–4, in Birmingham, Alabana. I get to go with her. She is up against some tough competition, but the first prize is $100,000. That wouldn’t be too shabby.
  • John seems to be doing well for the first time since he left last June. We’ll see how things work out—he hasn’t had a very good track record—but he’s working again for the first time in months, and seems to be much more rational than previously.
  • We’re also planning a trip to Florida to attend my Mom’s wedding in June. Did I mention my Mom is 80 years old? I have a great picture with her and her fiancé George, which I’ll post shortly. The whole family is very excited.
  • NaNi is still the world’s cutest and smartest three-year-old. I had always wanted to have a daughter, but she is more awesome than I would have imagined. She has a delightful sense of humor, too. Last Saturday she woke me up by hitting me repeatedly with a chain saw, chanting, “Dad! Banana bread!” She’s also informed me, “You don’t get any hugs: Hugs are for Mommy. You get knuckle sandwiches,” and I assure you she means it. She can also locate Alabama on a map. Every time she says grace, she includes, “Thank you that Mommy is feeling better.”
  • Work has been excellent. We are winding down, mostly fixing small bugs, in preparation for the release of version 6.0 of our product. I’ve been working on the user interface revamp, which has been a year in the making, and is absolutely amazing. For the first time in years, our software will look as good as it runs. Navigation and other user operations have been dramatically improved, and everything is consistent end-to-end.
  • We finally got caught up with “Lost.” Now it’s agony to wait a week between episodes! We also are backwatching “Gray’s Anatomy” and “Smallville.”
  • Last Friday, NaNi, Isaac, David, and the Dunn children were sitting in the bleachers at a basketball game, and were all singing “Chiron Beta Prime.” I was so proud of those little geeklings.
  • Keith Lancaster’s acapella CD “Glorious God” is amazing. Thanks to Bernard Farrell for recommending this CD, as well as its predecessor, “Awesome God: An a Cappella Worship Series.” Nothing warms my heart like hearing NaNi and the boys singing “Our God is an Awesome God” around the house, and we love to listen to these while traveling.
  • After reading Michael Crichton’s Next, I’ve added about 9 books on genetics to my list of books to read near immediately. (I may never finish Mao’s China and After or The 9/11 Commission Report, but I’ll keep plugging at them.) My goal is to be able to talk the language of genetics fluently with a PhD friend of ours. I’ve already got my DNA screen saver!
  • We’re getting new carpet in the basement, courtesy of a water heater failure about two months ago. ServiceMaster came out at the request of the insurance company, and saved us from serious long-term problems from water damage. Too bad our insurance doesn’t cover the water heater itself (due to its age), but as disasters go, this one wasn’t too bad.
  • Sorry for not posting more of late. I was very busy getting my accounting caught up so we could file our taxes, and I’m working on a very long post that analyzes (refutes) a popular KJV-only tract.